Ritchie, J. C. Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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A zone of forest vegetation encircling the Northern Hemisphere between the arctic-subarctic tundras in the north and the steppes, hardwood forests, and prairies in the south. The chief characteristic of the taiga is the prevalence of forests dominated by conifers. The taiga varies considerably in tree species from one major geographical region to another, and within regions there are distinct latitudinal subzones. The dominant trees are particular species of spruce, pine, fir, and larch. Other conifers, such as hemlock, white cedar, and juniper, occur locally, and the broad-leaved deciduous trees, birch and poplar, are common associates in the southern taiga regions. Taiga is a Siberian word, equivalent to “boreal forest.” See also: Forest and forestry; Tundra
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